West Virginia community welcomes Family Store back after refurbishing
By: David Ibata
When a car crashed into the Salvation Army Family Store in Fairmont, West Virginia, in February 2018, those at the Fairmont Service Center and nearby Morgantown Corps counted their blessings: The driver had only minor injuries, and it happened on a Sunday evening when no one was in the building.
That said, the store was a mess.
The driver “took out most of the front entryway, and she was going so fast, her car went from the front all the way to the back, and she hit a load-bearing back wall with all our HVAC and telecommunications,” said Lieutenant Sheldon Greenland, Morgantown corps officer.
Damage was extensive, and other repairs were needed. The store was out of commission for more than a year. Happily, there was insurance – and an outpouring of support from the community.
A re-opening and ribbon-cutting was held Saturday, March 9. Members of the Army and its advisory council, store employees, residents and representatives of the Marion County United Way and Chamber of Commerce were on hand.
“We had such a successful opening day – well over $1,000 in sales in just four or five hours, the most the store’s ever made in a day,” Lieutenant Greenland said.
Undamaged inventory had been moved to the Morgantown Corps Family Store, about 20 miles away. A U-Haul facility in Fairmont donated use of a storage unit so fixtures could be kept there.
“Thankfully, the end of the building that houses our service center was not affected at all, so we were able to continue running services out of the building,” said Heather Hawkins, Fairmont Service Center director. The center serves about 100 families a month with food baskets, a food box program for seniors, clothing vouchers, and utility, rental eviction and prescription assistance.
As construction wrapped up, it was time to re-furnish and re-stock.
“We started to pool items in Morgantown, and we had additional help from the Clarksburg (West Virginia) Corps” under Majors Eric and Tonya Roberts, Lieutenant Greenland said. “They gave us bric-a-brac, clothing, small appliances – a whole truckload. It was very, very helpful.”
He added, “we added more lights, and changed the colors of the walls from cream to white, so it enhances the lighting of the space. We removed some of the installed shelving and added grid walls so we could hang items on the wall and provide more space for people to walk.”
Hawkins said, “I’m extremely happy with it. It looks amazing. It’s bright and airy, it just looks wonderful. We’re just extremely pleased with how it came out.”
The store is important to The Salvation Army and to Fairmont, Lieutenant Greenland said, because “it’s the main source of income for our service unit. And it’s important to residents, a place they can donate or purchase items, and the funds go right back into the community.”